Knowing where you can take a brand and where the risks are, by Garden.
The typical branding agency these days tends to mimic the competition, but good quality agencies, or a branding agency that knows what it is doing, will know that it needs to do several things. Firstly it needs to find a single and honest relevant point of differentiation, a point that is a benefit to the customer. From here it should live and breath this core, from recruiting, training, experience packaging, promotion advertising, website design – everything that it does, from the ground up, needs to express this key point.
Once you know what this core element is, and once you have started to build this, you need to know where you are aiming for. There are several ways to develop a brand, from pushing the boundaries right out, and creating a brand that gets market attention, or you can build the brand more carefully, mimicking the competition. When I say mimic, what I mean is, to establish how the competing brands are approaching the market, and placing their brand in a way that doesn’t build any risk. Of course it always depends on the situation, is it a first to market offer? is it an established brand? does the brand cross borders and cultures? does it have a shelf life? such as 3G, is the brand representative of a new product or technology? is it representative of an establishment, charity etc. Understanding these areas, and what the audience is looking for or expecting, allows you to target that audience with relevance and interest.
A truly good agency will know how to channel into any area and disrupt in the best way, never going beyond acceptable, never sitting in a place of too much comfort, but always leading the field. The risks here are that by going too far ‘out there’ you create the potential of risk, you allow your competitor to target you, to change the course of the market etc, and you simply don’t want to risk a brand in that way anyway. That isn’t to say that it wont be inspiring, or intelligent etc, it just means it needs to follow the right direction.
When we re branded a world famous telecom, we needed to know what the company was about, what the benefit was for the customer, and what was believable as a brand shift. There was a new competitor coming into what was once a monopoly market, and that competitor was going to come in hard and high, in that they would be fun and cool and aggressive in this space. Knowing this and expecting this approach allowed us to stay calm, mature, and focus on the core of our offer. If we had tried to make them look young and cool, it simply would have been too much of a shift. We knew that we had to create a brand that would be respected, admired and aligned to the benefit.
We managed to do this with great success, so much so this company is now one of the most successful telecom brands in the world, certainly for the region they are in, and today they have an offer that works over 20 counties.
So what I am saying here is that any branding agency that operates at the level that an agency should, needs to know where there clients offer will sit, they need to understand this place very well, they need to know what their competitor brands are doing, where their brand will go, and how to sit in this space and create an offer that shines, that is rich and expressive, that shakes a market up, but doesn’t alienate.
The art of branding, is learning about your clients offer and their world, skills that only really come from experience and capability, things that any good branding agency should be able to achieve.